FSU, NCAA agree to pay legal fees over records request
TAMPA - Florida State University and the NCAA have agreed to pay $325,000 in legal fees for trying to block the release of documents in an academic cheating scandal involving athletes. The school agreed to pay $65,000 and the NCAA will pay $260,000 by Aug. 16 to the lawyers who represented a group of media companies that sued to release the documents. "We hope that the attorneys' fee payment here sends a strong message to government agencies and private entities seeking to impose secrecy -- don't mess with public records in Florida," said Carol LoCicero, an attorney with Thomas & LoCicero that represented the group. "We will fight for open government and hand you the tab." The firm represented the Tampa Tribune and more than 20 other media outlets.Florida State was forced to forfeit 12 victories from the record of former football coach Bobby Bowden and wins in nine other sports because their athletes cheated on an online music test or received other unauthorized help with their studies. The athletes competed in 2006 and 2007. The records, including a hearing transcript, were part of the disciplinary case against the school. Florida State and the NCAA tried to block the release but the state Supreme Court refused in February to overturn a lower court ruling saying they had to release the records. The attorneys' fees were the results of mediation Thursday.
Reporter Tom Brennan can be reached at (813) 259-7698.